Women's voices in the media still outnumbered by those of men - study

February 05, 2021

New research from Simon Fraser University shows that women's voices continue to be underrepresented in the media, despite having prominent female leaders across Canada and internationally. Researchers in SFU's Discourse Processing Lab found that men outnumber women quoted in Canadian news media about three to one. The findings from the team's Gender Gap Tracker study were published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

The research team collected data from seven major Canadian media outlets from October 2018 to September 2020. Over the two-year period, 29 per cent of people quoted in media stories were women versus 71 per cent men. B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, quoted more than 2,200 times, notably topped the list for women most quoted in the news--many others were also public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic--but still had fewer quotes than the top three male voices, all politicians.

"What this study shows is that we are very far from parity in mainstream news," says SFU linguistics professor and lab director Maite Taboada. "This has profound implications, as we tend to look for role models in the media."

Politicians, both male and female, were most often quoted in the media, followed by sports figures for men, and healthcare professionals for women.

"We found that, although men and women politicians appear regularly, men are quoted far more often. This is the case even despite Canada's gender-balanced cabinet," says Taboada.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump was found to be quoted the most often - 15,746 times to be exact, followed by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario's Premier Doug Ford. Other top women quoted were Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Canada's Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland.

The team used its Gender Gap Tracker software to analyze daily coverage from CBC, CTV, Global, HuffPost Canada, National Post, The Star and the Globe and Mail. Researchers used the power of large-scale text processing and big data storage to collect news stories daily and perform Natural Language Processing (NLP) to identify who is mentioned and who is quoted by gender.

"We are very proud of this team effort, as it highlights the potential of Natural Language Processing to contribute positively to society, in this case to show the gender gap in media," Taboada adds. "Natural Language Processing is a field at the intersection of computer science and linguistics that aims to analyze and extract information from large amounts of language data."

The researchers found that articles written by women quote more women (34 per cent for articles authored by women compared to 25 per cent for articles authored by men) and suggest part of the solution to addressing the gender gap in media includes hiring more women as reporters.

The study was conducted in partnership with Informed Opinions, which encourages media to diversify their sources and better reflect both genders. While the Gender Gap Tracker can only capture one kind of diversity, since it relies on names to assign gender to sources, the authors suggest considering other forms of diversity, given many other groups are underrepresented in the news.

The Gender Gap Tracker is available online (gendergaptracker.informedopinions.org) and updates every 24 hours.
-end-


Simon Fraser University

Related Gender Gap Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers study strength-training gender gap, possible solutions
Strength training is an important part of any exercise routine, but some women may not be getting the recommended hours.

Is COVID-19 widening the gender gap in academic medicine?
A new study finds that fewer women were first authors on COVID-19-related research papers published in the first half of this year.

Boys' poor reading skills might help explain higher education gender gap
Researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Essex in the United Kingdom found boys' poor reading skills in adolescence, combined with the social attitudes about women attending college, can help explain why fewer men than women enroll in higher education or other types of post-high school education.

Earliest age gender dysphoria experienced by transgender adults seeking gender-affirming surgery
Data collected from 155 adult transgender women and 55 transgender men were used to identify the earliest age at which gender dysphoria was experienced in this patient population seeking genital gender-affirming surgery at a California hospital.

The persistence of pay inequality: The gender pay gap in an anonymous online labor market
The US is witnessing a dramatic rise in nontraditional 'gig economy' labor markets.

Performance and age only partially explain gender pay gap for New Zealand researchers
Over her lifetime, the average female scientific researcher at a New Zealand university earns about NZ$400,000 less than her male counterparts, and less than half of this disparity can be explained by research performance and age.

Study finds persistent gender gap in medical paper publication
A new study in the journal Family Practice, published by Oxford University Press, shows that there remains a meaningful gender gap between the number of biomedical papers written by women and those written by men.

Meaningful change in culture urged to save neurology, reduce gender gap
UC Davis School of Medicine dean, NINDS deputy director lead national charge to improve conditions for women in neurology.

Women gain more political and economic power, but gender gap persists
There remains a persistent gender gap in attitudes about equality between men and women, suggests a University of California, Davis, study.

Gender pay gap shrinking for some female university presidents
While serious economic and societal issues continue to swirl around the gender pay gap, new research published in the INFORMS journal Organization Science shows one area where this inequality is starting to disappear -- higher education.

Read More: Gender Gap News and Gender Gap Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.